Distinguished OVC alumna Dr. Michelle Lem to receive Honorary Degree from the University of Guelph

June 14, 2023

Dr. Michelle Lem

An innovator and advocate in the world of veterinary and human health will be recognized with an Honorary Degree at the University of Guelph (U of G) this June. 

A distinguished U of G alumna, humanitarian and change maker, Dr. Michelle Lem has combined her passions for animal and human health care by building a pioneering career as the president, founder and director of Community Veterinary Outreach. Founded in 2003, the first-of-its-kind registered charity innovated a One Health model of care to improve the lives of individuals, families and their pets, experiencing homelessness and housing vulnerability in communities across Canada as well as in Kansas City. 

Lem has a proven track record of developing, innovating and disseminating successful and globally recognized models and programs that bridge the disciplines of veterinary and human medicine and the social sciences to connect animals, the environment and society. 

A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, Lem returned to U of G to pursue epidemiology studies on the effects of pet ownership on street-involved youth, contributing the first Canadian-based published research in this area. She has redefined the role of veterinarians as engaged community health liaisons interacting with marginalized populations and their pets.

Following master’s studies in social work, she established a private social work practice focusing on mental health counselling, developed animal care guidelines for emergency co-sheltering, developed and implemented equine-assisted learning programs for youth living at risk and created the veterinary social worker role and program at Capital City Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital.

Lem has been recognized with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Global One Health Award, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association President’s Award, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the OVC Young Alumnus Award. She was elected an Ashoka Fellow for innovation in healthcare delivery and for her dedication to a servant leadership model that has enhanced the health and welfare of both people and animals.

Honorary degrees are the highest honour bestowed by the University and are meant to celebrate individuals whose accomplishments provide inspiration to the U of G community.  Lem will be recognized at the Ontario Veterinary College Convocation ceremony on June 16, 2023 at 4:30 PM and will also provide the convocation address to the class of 2023. Review the full list of honorary degree recipients on the University of Guelph website and watch the ceremony online.   

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